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The Breakers
Palm Beach, FL
June 21-22, 1997

The meeting was called to order at 1:10 PM EDT. In attendance were Jose Cordero, Phil Mirkes, Tony Scialli, Kathy Sulik, Elaine Francis, Barbara Hales, Bill Slikker, Carol Lemire (ex officio), Tom Sadler (ex officio) and George Daston. Dr. Cordero presided.

Report of the Editor Search Committee: Dr. Robert Harrington, representing Wiley-Liss, and Mr. Jim Schardein, chair of the Editor Search Committee, were present at the start of the meeting at the invitation of Council. Mr. Schardein gave a brief report on the work of the search committee. It consisted of the Publications Committee, Godfrey Oakley and Bern Schwetz. Mr. Schardein reported that there had been six nominees for the position and the committee interviewed the top four by telephone. The four had been ranked by the committee and the committee recommended that Lew Holmes be approved by Council. Mr. Schardein indicated that Dr. Holmes had specific financial requirements from the publisher before he would accept the position.

Members of Council asked for details on the search committee's process and the factors that led them to choose Dr. Holmes. Mr. Schardein indicated that the committee had found Dr. Holmes' responses to its questions during the interview to be the most satisfactory. Mr. Schardein read the list of questions that were posed to each candidate. They inquired about the candidate's views on the scope of the journal, name of the journal, representation of Teratology Society membership's interests in the journal, as well as details on the operational aspects of running the editorial office and interacting with the publisher. Mr. Schardein indicated that Dr. Holmes believes the journal should reflect the diversity of the Society's membership. He also intends to solicit manuscripts from genetics and clinical societies to improve the representation of these disciplines in the journal. He intends to target abstracts from meetings of these groups as sources of manuscripts for Teratology. Mr. Schardein also stated that Dr. Holmes' breadth, particularly his clinical experience, counted in his favor.

Dr. Sulik and Dr. Mirkes asked Mr. Schardein for the ranking of the remaining three candidates. Mr. Schardein replied that the committee interpreted its charge as being to select the top candidate only and that Dr. Holmes had stood out. After considerable discussion Council asked for the name of the second ranked candidate, which Mr. Schardein shared.

Dr. Daston moved that Mr. Schardein's report be accepted. The motion carried.

Dr. Harrington expressed his interest in learning Council's goals for the journal. It was agreed that Council would select a smaller group to meet with him later to discuss this. He also expressed his concerns about increasing the publisher's subsidy of the editorial office without a commensurate increase in manuscript flow.

Bob Kavlock joined the meeting at 2:05 PM.

Dr. Holmes was invited into the meeting at this point to answer Council's questions about his plans for the journal. Dr. Mirkes asked him what he would use the requested increase in the editorial budget for. Dr. Holmes replied that he had made inquiries of editors of several successful journals, and all had a part-time administrative assistant. There would also be a discretionary fund to be used to reward Section Editors for bringing in papers. Finally, some of the money would be to compensate Dr. Holmes, as he is entirely on soft money and will set aside one full day a week to handle the editorial responsibilities.

Dr. Holmes addressed a number of questions about his vision for the journal. He stated that he would like the journal to represent all sectors of the Teratology Society. He indicated that we needed to reach outside the Society to supplement manuscript flow. He felt that the journal needed top-notch reviewers, whether from the Society or not. In order to be successful in attracting outside researchers to the journal it would be necessary to offer an individual subscription rate, something that the publisher does not now do. Regarding the name of the journal, he felt that it should remain Teratology for now, but with a subtitle indicating that it was a journal on abnormal development. Dr. Holmes indicated a willingness to publish relevant symposium proceedings in the journal and abstracts from other groups, such as the limb development conference.

Dr. Holmes was excused at 2:55 PM.

Dr. Harrington expressed his opinion as the publisher's representative. He was impressed with Dr. Holmes' philosophy for the journal, and would speak with his superiors about the budgetary requests. He asked for a meeting with Council after he had a chance to speak with them. Council appointed Phil Mirkes, Bob Kavlock, George Daston, and Jim Schardein (as a representative of the search committee) to meet with Dr. Harrington and Wiley-Liss.

Dr. Sulik moved that we interview the search committee's second candidate before choosing an editor. The motion carried.

Dr. Harrington and Mr. Schardein were excused at 3:15 PM.

Room Slippage: Mr. Fred Edson, National Sales Manager for The Breakers, was invited to join the meeting. Dr. Cordero explained that, as expected, the Society had not met its room occupancy obligations. Mr. Edson stated that the original contract had specified that we would occupy 2920 room-nights. This had been reduced by the maximum extent allowed in the contract, to 2466. Our room occupancy was only 2027 room-nights. The penalty for the slippage is approximately $53,000, which the hotel will forgive in full given our agreement to return in the year 2000. Mr. Edson noted that the hotel would offer comparable prices and amenities for the 2000 meeting; we were free to decrease our room occupancy obligation; we could forego any and all food and beverage functions; and we could decrease the length of the meeting. He stated that The Breakers was interested in encouraging repeat business from the Society.

Mr. Edson was excused at 4:05 PM.

There was considerable discussion about how to present this situation to the membership. Dr. Cordero stated that he would fully explain the problem at the annual meeting, and would ask Mr. Edson to speak to the membership.

Strategic Planning Committee: Dr. Mirkes briefly reviewed the report from the Strategic Planning Committee's meeting in Cincinnati, which had been provided previously to Council. He went over a number of reports that had been generated by subgroups working subsequent to the Cincinnati meeting.

The draft mission statement was discussed by Council. Suggested changes were given to Dr. Daston. He agreed to redraft the statement for presentation at the Strategic Planning Committee's meeting on June 22 and at the open forum on June 24.

A subgroup to consider the Society's name recommended that it be changed to The Birth Defects Research Society. Council agreed that the membership should be asked for input at the open forum and then would be polled on this change by way of suggested amendments to the constitution.

A subgroup to deal with the Society's financial issues recommended that: 1) a management firm or executive director be hired to deal with the business aspects of the Society; 2) the annual meeting should be revamped to attract more participants; 3) partnerships with other societies that share aspects of our mission should be explored; 4) the journal should become a source of revenue; 5) the membership roll should be increased and diversified; 6) the donor base should be expanded; and 7) the marketing of educational materials should be explored. Dr. Kavlock suggested that this work group be charged with developing specific action items.

Dr. Mirkes then asked for advice on structuring the open forum. It was decided that he would present the main points of the strategic plan (as above), then open the meeting for questions and discussion.

Financial Advisory Committee: Dr. Daston summarized the written report submitted by Ron Jensh, the chair of this ad hoc fund-raising committee. Dr. Jensh had developed a list of CEOs at companies that were likely to have an interest in teratology. His committee recommends that the names on the list be contacted for substantial contributions to support the Society. He had also designed a logo that could be displayed in the headquarters of these sponsors.

Dr. Scialli suggested that we may be more successful if we solicit money for a specific purpose. He suggested a post-doctoral fellowship or to support continuing education conferences for physicians. Dr. Cordero suggested support for visiting faculty. Dr. Hales suggested the dissemination of pamphlets on teratology to medical students.

Dr. Cordero remanded this issue to Dr. Mirkes to consolidate and align the recommendations of this committee with that of the Strategic Planning Committee.

A recess was called at 5:40 PM. The meeting was reconvened at 8:10 AM, June 22.

President's Report: Dr. Cordero presented a written report of his activities. There were several topics that he brought up for discussion with Council.

The first was a discussion on attracting to our meeting more groups that have a complementary mission; OTIS is a good example. Dr. Cordero has met with the Council for OTIS and invited them to hold their meetings with ours on an annual basis, as NBTS does. They have agreed to consider this on a year-by-year basis. The OTIS Council requested that we send a liaison from our Council to their meetings, and vice versa. The support for this request was strong. Dr. Scialli volunteered to serve as our liaison. Dr. Kavlock suggested that we have a similar liaison with the NBTS Council. Dr. Slikker volunteered to serve. Dr. Cordero stated that the goals of holding joint meetings with other societies should be to facilitate scientific exchange. This may also increase membership in the Teratology Society by attracting members of the affiliate societies who are impressed with the content of our meeting.

Dr. Cordero reported that he had appointed a Warkany Lecturer Selection Committee, chaired by Dr. Holmes. This committee's task is to advise the President on potential candidates for the lectureship, with the President making the decision. Dr. Cordero recommended that the incoming President should appoint the chair of this committee, who would then appoint the remainder of the committee.

Dr. Cordero reported on his activities in expanding the Society's reach to Latin America. Teratologists there have attached themselves to local genetics societies because there is no teratology society. Dr. Cordero has invited them to join our Society. He expressed the opinion that we consider offering gratis memberships for some of these individuals. Dr. Hales suggested that we seek financial support for these gratis memberships by adding a line on the dues forms, and in our corporate solicitations. She also suggested that we extend our outreach to all developing nations. Dr. Slikker suggested that we solicit donations from South American pesticide manufacturers to cover the cost of Latin American memberships. He offered to provide a list.

Dr. Cordero next brought up the subject of associate membership in FASEB, which had been tabled at the interim Council meeting. Dr. Francis reported that she had attended the consensus conference on graduate education that we had been invited to attend. She felt that there was the opportunity for active participation, but was unable to determine how much influence we would be able to exert. After considerable discussion, there was support from Council. Dr. Scialli moved that the issue to be presented to the membership for a vote. The motion carried. Dr. Slikker expressed the opinion that it might take several years before we were able to make an impact.

Dr. Cordero informed Council that he had asked Dr. Ferencz to give a eulogy for Tomas Pexieder at the business meeting. Dr. Mirkes suggested that obituaries be published in Teratology.

Program Committee: Dr. Mirkes referred Council to his written report. He stressed that the number of abstracts submitted had decreased again. Dr. Scialli suggested that because of the smaller volume of abstracts it may be possible to forego concurrent sessions in the future. He also suggested that we solicit abstracts from scientists not in the Society, possibly by offering submitters a year's free membership. This was tabled for discussion at a later time. Dr. Mirkes was thanked by Council for putting together an excellent program.

Executive Secretary's Report: Ms. Lemire referred Council to her written report, which included data on membership and number of early registrants for the meeting. Dr. Cordero recommended that the registration fee for non-members be made equivalent to the member registration fee plus annual dues, as an inducement for non-members to consider joining the Society. Council asked that a membership application be included with the meeting registration material, and that all student travel awardees be sent membership applications. Council will ask the Membership Committee and Student Affairs Committee to attend to this. The Membership Committee will also be asked to contact retired members who have resigned to offer them emeritus status. Lastly, Council volunteered to contact members who have not paid their 1997 dues.

Jan Friedman joined the meeting at 10:00 AM.

Treasurer's Report: Dr. Francis referred Council to her written report, which would also be presented at the business meeting. She indicated that the annual meetings continue to make money. The net income from the 1996 meeting was $43,000. There were three special items on this year's budget: liability insurance, establishment of a web page, and expenses associated with development of the strategic plan. The suggestion was made that the annual financial report appear in an issue of the newsletter.

Dr. Francis requested that we institute a policy regarding the meeting and course registration fees, to ensure that they cover costs of food, beverage, materials, staff, and other expenses, and that the Treasurer be explicitly involved in setting these fees. Dr. Daston moved that we set as a goal for 2001 to decrease food and beverage costs to no more than 30% of the registration fee. This was amended to read that we would charge the Finance Committee with pursuing the feasibility of such a goal. The amended motion carried. Dr. Daston moved that the Treasurer be consulted in setting meeting and course registration fees. The motion carried.

Site Selection Issues: Consideration of sites for the 2001 and 2002 meetings will be postponed until the subgroup of the Strategic Planning Committee dealing with annual meetings finishes its report.

Recruitment Service: Dr. Hoberman had submitted a report with a number of recommendations for publishing ads in the newsletter or electronically. These recommendations will be taken up by the newsletter editor. He also recommended that we charge for printing ads. This recommendation will be considered by the Finance Committee.

Society Management: Ms. Lemire was excused for this discussion. Dr. Daston reported that he and Dr. Francis had visited ADG and Drohan Management Company and had been favorably impressed by their staff and capabilities. Dr. Daston had also solicited proposals for management from FASEB and from our current staff, as had been agreed at the interim Council meeting. Dr. Daston circulated a comparison of estimated costs for these four options. The costs were comparable for all four. A discussion ensued about the relative merits of the four options. It was felt that having access to an executive director and a full-time meeting planner were critical to the Society's well-being. Dr. Daston was asked for his recommendation. He felt that all of the options were good, but that ADG was most closely aligned with the needs and goals of the Society, and he and several others in the Society had worked with ADG through the Society of Toxicology and had a great deal of trust in the staff. It was moved that we pursue a contract with ADG, to commence in January 1998. The motion carried.

Publications Committee: Tom Sadler, Dick Skalko, Chip Vorhees and Ms. Lemire joined the meeting at 11:30 AM. Dr. Sadler gave a report on the state of the journal. Fifty-five manuscripts had been submitted so far in 1997. The journal was still behind in its publication schedule because there were too few manuscripts and because of production delays at the publisher. The latter problem was being remedied. The journal had regained ground in impact factor among developmental biology journals from its drop in 1996. The Publications Committee indicated that it was dissatisfied in its interactions with the publisher, and felt that the publisher was not supporting the journal or the Society to the extent it should. The suggestion was made that we explore alternative possibilities in publication. It was agreed that Drs. Sadler, Mirkes and Daston would look into alternatives.

Dr. Skalko reported that his committee had chosen reproductive system development as the topic for the Wiley-Liss symposium for 1998. The Midwest Teratology Association has already developed a session on this subject, which was well received at its most recent meeting and will be repeated (with modifications and updates) as the 1998 Wiley-Liss symposium. Dr. Daston volunteered to serve as a liaison to the MTA group that will present the symposium. Dr. Skalko reminded Council that his term on the Publication Committee was ending, and that Dr. Vorhees would be the new chair. He recommended that Jim Schardein, Jan Friedman or Rick Finnell be appointed to the Publications Committee.

Public Affairs Committee: Dr. Friedman reported that the Society's position paper on vitamin A was being updated by a working group headed by Ed Lammer. Joe Lary was working on a consensus statement on endocrine disrupters, but was finding it difficult to achieve consensus. The Committee has decided to take no action on a thalidomide position paper until the CDC's position statement is published in the Fall. At that point the Committee will decide whether to endorse the CDC paper or prepare its own. Bob Brent has volunteered to represent the Society at the FDA hearing on pregnancy warnings.

The Public Affairs Committee drafted press releases for the annual meeting. The success of these was limited. Ken Jones will arrange for press coverage in San Diego in 1998.

The Public Affairs symposium proposed for 1998 would be on accumulating data on pregnancy outcomes in women taking approved drugs.

New Business: Dr. Cordero announced that Nancy Mutch, an exhibitor for Hamilton-Thorne, had expressed interest in sponsoring a student travel award.

Dr. Sadler recommended that the Constitution and By-Laws Committee be asked to determine the adequacy of the language pertaining to editor searches, spouse memberships, and concurrent service on Council and Publication Committee.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:25 PM.

Editor Search: An extraordinary session of Council I was convened on the morning of June 23 to interview the second candidate for Editor-in-Chief of Teratology. Dr. Cordero was the only voting member of Council not present, due to an obligation in a concurrent scientific session. Dr. Harrington of Wiley-Liss was present. The candidate gave an impressive interview. Dr. Harrington indicated that he found both candidates acceptable, after which he left the meeting. Members of Council discussed the relative merits of both candidates and found them both to be extremely capable and well qualified for the position. Council agreed that Dr. Cordero should be given the opportunity to interview the second candidate. A non-binding poll of the members present was taken to give Dr. Cordero a sense of Council's sentiment.

A second extraordinary meeting of Council I was held on June 26 to make a decision on Editor-in-Chief. In attendance were Jose Cordero, Phil Mirkes, Tony Scialli, Kathy Sulik, Elaine Francis, Barbara Hales, Bill Slikker, Bob Kavlock (by telephone), Jan Friedman (ex officio), Tom Sadler (ex officio), Carol Lemire (ex officio), Bob Seegmiller (ex officio), and George Daston. Dr. Cordero presided.

Dr. Mirkes reported that he, Dr. Kavlock, Mr. Schardein and Dr. Daston had met with the representatives for Wiley-Liss regarding support for the editorial office and the journal, as directed by Council. Dr. Harrington and Dr. Joe Ingram represented the publisher at the meeting. The publisher's representatives indicated that they would consider our requests. The publisher subsequently responded in writing to Dr. Cordero that it would agree to increase the financial support to the editorial office and would work with the new editor to establish a suitable policy on gratis color plates and individual subscription rates.

Dr. Cordero stated that he had interviewed the second candidate for the editorship. He opened the meeting for discussion of the two candidates. There was unanimous sentiment that both candidates were exceptionally qualified and would do an outstanding job. After considerable discussion, a written ballot was conducted, with the understanding that if the first candidate declined the position for any reason that it would be offered to the second. Dr. Holmes received a majority of the votes.

Respectfully submitted,
George P. Daston


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